Some brick and mortar retailers are trying to differentiate their brand by creating unique shopping experiences. Done well, this can be a smart strategy.
One example is Origins beauty stores. Origins, owned by Estée Lauder Cos., has tapped into a consumer desire for experiences by encouraging slow shopping. It is a trend that encourages a leisurely browsing experience over a quick sale.
Shoppers inside Origins stores can sit at a long communal table and sample soaps, scrubs and lotions. The store includes a wall specially lighted for taking selfies. The new experiential design has been a double success.
It gives shoppers an emotional motivator to come into the store and stay longer. And the more they linger, the more they buy. Origins has seen an increase in sales from 20-40 percent with the slow shopping format.
This is a good example of extending the brand experience in a way that reinforces the meaning of the original brand. Customers are in the frame of mind to pamper themselves and the shopping experience gives them a greater opportunity to do that.
To make the experience meaningful to customers, you must stay within the boundaries of their expectations and frame of mind. If the experience is out of context with how they think and feel about your brand, it creates confusion.
This is a challenge some grocers are facing.
ShopRite stores in New York are adding fitness studios with yoga and Zumba classes in an attempt to get customers to hang out at the grocery store. This seems out of context with customer expectations for a grocery shopping experience. It will likely meet the same fate other grocers suffered that offered car wash services to shoppers. It didn’t work.
Creating customer experiences is a lot like extending your brand name to a new line of products. If the experience is out of context with the meaning people have in their mind about your brand, it won’t stick.[Bonus: We recently talked about the pros and cons of extending your brand experience on The Heart of Marketing podcast. You can listen to more of that discussion here.]